Just Stop!

December 29, 2008 at 5:12 pm | Posted in Christianity | 5 Comments
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As 2009 begins, I wanted to write a plea to Christians, to other faiths, to Americans, and to the world. My plea is this:

 

Just Stop!

 

To Americans: STOP blaming everything but our sins for the problems that we are now facing! Do you realize that God promised all the problems that we have at this moment to the nation who turns its back on Him? From diseases, to plagues, to enemy attacks, to financial instability, these things are because of our sins. It doesn’t matter who we put into office or what kind of legislation or efforts we make, unless our nation turns back to God, things will only get worse. Not only that, but why not take the time to learn some of our nation’s 200 year history? So many people talk about how having Christianity in the political process, the government, and in schools is unconstitutional because of the “separation of church and state”. Do you realize how ludicrous you look when doing this because you don’t know your own country’s history? The phrase “separation of church and state” is not in the Constitution. It comes from a letter by Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptists. But the idea of “separation of church and state” is not in there either. The founding fathers of this nation feared God and depended on Him to guide their nation. The only thing found in the constitution is the idea that the nation cannot declare a state religion. The U.S. has never declared a state religion although, until recently, it has been recognized by most as a Christian nation. How much has to happen to us before we cast aside our pride and admit that IT IS OUR FAULT?!?!

 

Also, to those who lead our nation, what are you thinking? STOP thinking only of yourselves and nothing of the nation or the future. You don’t seem to care what happens as long as you get yours. You are supposed to be serving the people and yet you’ve done nothing to help our nation get back on track. You vote yourselves a raise every year, even though you don’t do your job, no matter what the economy is like. In the meantime, thousands of people are being laid off and put in positions where they can’t even afford to feed their families, while you make six figure salaries. Why? STOP relying on everything but God and leading our nation away from the One who can actually save us. You rub shoulders with those who pay you the most money while ignoring the people you’re supposed to be representing. You seem to have forgotten the history of our nation and the giants whose shoulders you’re standing on. Just STOP! STOP blasting America and her leaders while you sleep with the enemy and cater to them and their desires (thank you Mr. Carter…). And, all of this is going on while our soldiers are fighting these people overseas! STOP allowing the leaders of foreign countries to speak at American universities like dignitaries when they’ve made it clear that they hate America. Just in case there are a few in Congress who actually strive to do what God desires, then I encourage you to be bolder in your faith. Either you are being overshadowed by the wickedness and deception of the majority or you’re not speaking loud enough to be heard.

 

To those who preach tolerance: First, learn the definition of the word. It is not being accepting of everything and everyone by compromising your faith. Being tolerant is putting up with something even though you disagree with it. STOP saying that you are tolerant and open to all beliefs when you rail against Christianity and those who follow Christ. That doesn’t seem very tolerant (by either definition), if you ask me. You whine and complain saying Christians are intolerant, but you practice the very same thing in regard to Christians. If you really want to be tolerant, then treat Christians and Christianity like you treat everyone else. If you don’t want to do that, then treat everyone else just like you treat Christians. The truth is Christianity, while exclusive, is the most tolerant belief system there is! If you look around the world, you don’t see much about Muslims being killed (unless it’s by other Muslims), but you hear about the Christians in Iraq who are living naked in the woods because the Muslims there have threatened their lives. You don’t hear much about Hindus being killed, but you hear about the Christians in Orissa being killed by Hindu radicals for the death of a high-level Hindu cleric, even though it’s been proven that the Christians had nothing to do with it! How many atheists are being persecuted and killed for their lack of faith? If you’re going to preach tolerance, then live it out as well. Otherwise, STOP!

 

To Muslims:  STOP trying to compare your beliefs to Christianity. They aren’t even close. Allah is not the same as the God of the Bible. Islam is not the religion of peace that many Muslims try to convince Westerners it is (read Surahs 9:29, 5:33). We don’t worship the same God. We differ on the fact that Jesus is God. In Islam, you have to work for your salvation. You must do a list of things to be saved. Even then, you’re not guaranteed that you’ll be saved when judgment comes. In Christianity, you can do nothing to help with your salvation. It is by grace that we are saved and nothing else (Ephesians 2:8-9). In Islam, an “angel” (Gabriel) came and gave the “revelation” of Islam to Muhammed. Oddly enough, much of the “revelation” is based on 2nd century Jewish fables and self-serving “decrees” given to Muhammed by “Allah”. In Christianity, God Himself spoke to prophets and patriarchs in the Old Testament, and through His Son in the New Testament (Hebrews 1:2). To those in the U.S. who call themselves Muslims: read the Quran and the Hadith. If you’re not following this, then can you really be called a Muslim? You claim that the Bible is corrupted and untrustworthy even though the Quran has a myriad of problems and contradictions that you seem to ignore and that cannot be reconciled. You don’t have anything in common with Christianity except where the Quran has correctly lifted verses from scripture…

 

To atheists/evolutionists: Whether or not you believe that God exists is your choice, but at least be intellectually honest about what you believe. STOP saying your belief is based on “cold, hard facts”. Your belief that God does not exist is a metaphysical one. Many of you have been trying to deny, rewrite, or erase the history of our country that shows that those who founded our nation were men and women who not only believed God, they feared Him and it’s apparent in their writings and quotes. Also, STOP trying lump the God of the Bible together with false gods like Allah, Buddha, Wotam, Odin, Zeus, and the “flying spaghetti monster”. I also have to wonder if you really believe what you say. According to what you believe, God doesn’t exist. If that’s true, then there is no basis for morality. I may be missing something, but if that’s true, shouldn’t there be a lot more bloodshed and anarchy? If you really believe in “survival of the fittest” and “man makes the rules”, then why don’t we see more atheists and evolutionists attacking others or using violence to get what they want? Isn’t that how nature works according to what you believe? Not only that, but why do leading atheists (including Richard Dawkins) admit that the atheistic/evolutionary worldview is savage and try to promote a Christian morality without Christ? If you don’t believe that God exists, why does He bother you so much? Why not just be honest and say that you don’t believe He exists because you don’t like the moral laws that come with His existence? Why not just be honest and say that you hate Him and be done with it?

 

To homosexuals: STOP hiding behind excuses. You claim that you are victims because you can’t have the same rights as heterosexual people. In actuality, you do have the same rights as heterosexuals. You just choose not to take part in some of them because they contradict the lifestyle that you choose to live in. Also, STOP trying to compare homosexuality to skin color. The color of someone’s skin is not a choice they make. They are born with it. To compare the “trouble” that homosexuals are going through to the race issues of the 60’s is ridiculous and an insult to those who suffered through those times and even lost their lives in the troubles. Homosexuality is not genetic. The Bible says that when God created man, He made a man and woman. He then instituted marriage between the two in Genesis 2. That’s what marriage is. That is the definition of marriage and to be married, you need to ascribe to it as God created it. If you choose not to, then you are not married. STOP pretending to be Christians when you are living a sinful lifestyle. The Bible clearly says that homosexuality is an abomination to God. This is not just an Old Testament idea (Leviticus 18:22). Paul spends a lot of time in the New Testament saying the same thing (1 Cor. 6:9, Gal. 5:16-19, Rom. 1). If you choose to reject what the scripture says and go ahead to live a sinful lifestyle, then you cannot be a Christian. You are choosing to rebel against God and His Word even though many of you have been told very clearly what the Bible says. That is not the lifestyle of a Christian and it will prevent you from being saved. To those who support “homosexual Christians”, STOP! You are doing nothing but perpetuating a false view of what scripture says and deceiving others into believing they are saved when they aren’t! If you’re going to attack Christians (like that weak Prop 8 musical) at least get some idea of what Biblical Christians really believe (see the next section).

 

To those who hate Christ/Christianity: If you are going to attack Christianity/Christ, please STOP using the same weak arguments. Please STOP setting up straw men that are easily knocked down and ridiculed. I know that it makes you look good and that it helps to persuade people to agree with you, but it is poor form. Not only that but if you’re going to argue, please STOP with the potty mouth. It doesn’t do anything to further your argument and makes you look like a juvenile delinquent (no offense to juvenile delinquents intended…).  If you’re going to attack Christianity, at least make an argument based on Biblical Christianity. Take the time to do some research on what scripture actually says. Do the work to understand what true Christians actually believe and what the Bible really says and then make your argument. If your not willing to do that (whether it’s because you’re too lazy, you think that Christians are beneath you and not worth the time, etc…), then STOP whining and arguing! Many of the arguments used nowadays are the same regurgitated arguments that have been refuted for years (some for centuries). Also, please understand that many (if not the majority) of the “pastors” and “evangelists” that you see on television do not represent Biblical Christianity.

 

To those religions who claim to have ties to Christianity: God the Father is eternal. He is not a man who has been elevated to “god” status, nor does He have any wives. Jesus is eternal as well. He is not a “spirit child” of the “Father” and one of “His” wives. Jesus is God and not just a man or prophet. He is NOT the spirit brother of Lucifer. You cannot do anything to help yourself to enter heaven. STOP trying to force people to believe unnecessary things (dogmas, etc…) as part of their salvation. STOP adding to or taking away from Biblical Christianity to suit yourself. STOP redefining what Christianity is instead of seeing it the way God defines it. STOP trying to read modern ideas and thoughts into the scriptures. Instead, read the Bible the way that it was meant to be read. STOP trying to weave Eastern mysticism (yoga, “centering” prayer, etc…) into the gospel (Rob Bell, Brian McClaren, Doug Pagitt)! STOP claiming that everyone will be saved (universalism), even if they don’t know Jesus. This is a horrible heresy that has no grounds in scripture. You are propagating a false doctrine that will lead numerous people to hell. STOP! If you are not going to follow Biblical Christianity, then please STOP calling yourself a Christian.

 

To pastors: STOP preaching a false gospel and making false converts. You are supposed to be teaching, protecting, and leading people to Christ. If you’re not preaching the truth of scripture, then STOP calling yourself a pastor, STOP calling what you speak a sermon, and STOP calling your group of people a church. If you’re going to spend your time tickling ears and entertaining people instead of warning people about hell and motivating those who believe to go out with you to preach the gospel, then you’re not a pastor, you’re a motivational speaker or a cheap entertainer. STOP preaching prosperity as the reason Christ came and telling others they should be “blessed” and if they’re not, they are missing out (Kenneth Copeland, Jesse Duplantis, Jerry Savelle, Bill Winston, Creflo Dollar). STOP talking about the blessing of Abraham as dealing with material things and actually read the whole text of Galatians 3 in context. STOP saying that we should be “blessed” so that we can turn around and bless others. I can go out and preach the gospel and not have to spend anything, and I will, if it I really want to bless people. STOP encouraging the greed of others to seek material “blessings”. STOP teaching others that they can somehow create the things that they want by “speaking in faith”. STOP telling people that they shouldn’t be sick or they might not be saved. STOP telling people that they should be speaking to the weather, or their circumstances, or any number of other things like they have control. STOP blurring the line between God and man. You bring God down to the level of man and raise man up to the level of God. STOP replacing the true gospel with one that focuses on social ills (Rick Warren). STOP trying to tell believers (or those who call themselves believers) that they need to be spending their time and money helping fight poverty, illiteracy, and hunger. While these are things that we do need to help fight, they are not as important as the eternal destiny of the souls of humanity. STOP saying that the focus of Christianity is “joy, peace, love, and hope”. IT’S NOT! The focus of Christianity is the glory of God through the salvation of man by God’s grace brought about through the death of Christ and His resurrection. The Bible gives no guarantee that the Christian life will be sunshine and roses. As a matter of fact, Jesus gives the promise of persecution to His followers a number of times. STOP teaching people they should feel good about themselves (Joel Osteen, Robert Schuller) when the Bible says that they are wretched sinners. STOP telling people that they just need to “be positive” and “think good thoughts”. STOP trying to be relevant and mimic the world. If you are riding motorcycles on the stage or using secular songs as the basis for your “sermons” STOP! You are not only making a fool of yourself, you are giving haters of Christ an easy time mocking the Lord. STOP courting sinners and tickling their ears with what they want to hear instead of preaching the truth. STOP talking to the unsaved to determine how you’re going to run your church (Bill Hybels). STOP trying to make programs to bring people in the church in the hopes that they might get saved by osmosis while listening to one of your weak, unscriptural messages. STOP shrinking back from speaking Biblical truth because it might offend someone or cause the numbers in the church to go down. STOP compromising the gospel.

 

To those who support unbiblical ideas: STOP calling abortion the removal of “blobs of tissue” when it’s murder and an abomination to God. STOP saying that abortion is about a woman’s choice, when it is about whether you are going to follow God or man. STOP saying that everyone will be saved. I know I said this above, but it bears repeating. Not all religions lead to heaven and God. Only one does. Jesus said that He is “the way, the truth, and the life” and “that no man comes to the Father but through Him” (John 14:6). This means that if you haven’t repented of your sins and put your trust in Christ, then you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. STOP telling people that hell is not a real place or avoiding the topic at all. Jesus makes it clear that hell is real and that those who are found with their sins unpaid for on the Day of Judgment will be sent there.

 

To Christians in general: If you’re one of the dying breed that obey Biblical Christianity and what the Bible says, keep fighting. Don’t compromise the truth in the name of “love” or “tolerance”. Don’t grow weary because you think that you are the only one who is trying to follow Biblical Christianity the way that Jesus laid it down in the gospels. Remember that if you are truly following the scriptures and doing what God has called all Christians to do, people will hate you. When you speak the truth of the Bible and tell wretched sinners that they will go to hell because they are in rebellion against God, they will not like you. Unfortunately, in America, you will be in the minority. There will be numerous legions of “believers” who will tell you that you need to focus on the love of God. They will shake their head as you preach the truth because they don’t understand it. You will find yourself in hardship and may find yourself alone at times. Nonetheless, it is a worthy thing that you do regardless of whether or not the majority of “believers” agree with you. I encourage you to look for those of like mind and heart. Find those who are more concerned about the truth being preached and the lost hearing how they can be soundly saved. Be bold in the preaching of the truth. Stand in the open square and shout to be heard. Don’t let emotion keep you from telling others the reality of hell and the future of those who die in their sins. Make sure that your motive is the same as Christ’s. Grieve over those who walk away from you at the end of the message without repenting, but trust that God is well able to move on their hearts and confirm the seed of truth that you preached.

 

If you’re one of the many people who claim to be Christian but you do not follow the Biblical view of what a Christian is/should be, then I would have to wonder. If you hold to a worldview that doesn’t agree with what scripture says, then I would have to wonder. If you openly live your life in opposition to what the Bible says, then I don’t have to wonder, you’re not a Christian. It’s really that simple. If Christianity is just a way for you to be “blessed”, or a way for you to feel good about yourself, or a way for you to live the life you want to live; then I don’t just wonder; I’m concerned for you. Christianity is about the sinfulness of man. It’s about how man is a wretch and is unable to save himself. It is about how he rebels against God on a daily (if not minute by minute) basis and is at enmity with Him. It is about how man deserves hell because of the sins he’s committed against a holy and just God. And, it’s about the fact that despite how decrepit and wicked man is, God came to earth and died for us. It’s about how God paid the fine that we couldn’t pay so that He could dismiss the legal case against us. Because of God’s Law, we are all guilty. The punishment for the crime against a perfect, eternal God is eternal damnation in hell. Because God paid our fine, if we are willing to do things on His terms, we can have our case dismissed and be free to go. For this to happen, we don’t “ask Jesus into our heart”. We must repent (turn form our sins) and put our trust in Jesus (like we would trust a parachute). If we will do this, then God will forgive our sins and grant us eternal life. If that’s not your version of Christianity, then I would urge you to examine your motives, your understanding, and your heart. Please make sure of your salvation and know that your eternity and the eternity of those around you may be at stake!

DOTW 12/17/08 Crossover – RMS Aquitania

December 17, 2008 at 4:20 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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This weeks design is part of the Crossover blog. It is where a number of designers take the time to talk about another artist’s design that caught their eye.

This week, I am writing about something that I have always liked. The design is called RMS Aquitania. It is designed by labelstone and is part of a vintage art series. When asked about how she got started with vintage labels, she replied:

The love of vintage started with a fascination with art deco. I bought a lamp and then a few bowls etc. Then I started looking at the printed ads, which really caught my eye. At this point I need to add that printer’s ink is in the blood as I a from a line of printers dating back to 1879. The company closed shortly before my father’s death in 2000. His company did not print labels (sadly) but I well remember going down to the plant to watch the presses in action and smell the inks.
I now have a large collection of fruit crate labels and that is where quite a few of my images come from. I also have Victorian trade cards and postcards that I get designs from.

The design that caught my eye did so because it is colorful and there is a sense of movement and life to the image. I also like the style the art is done in and the depth of the image as well.

I asked labelstone how an image is chosen for her shop and she had this to say:

How do I chose? I have to like it, which I know is not the best way of approaching success! If it catches my eye or sense of humor, then I have a go at digitally cleaning the image. If it will not clean up, then I toss the image.

If you get a chance, check out labelstone’s shop and see if there is anything that catches your eye like it did mine!

This blog post is a part of a crossover blog. Other participants in this crossover blog are:

 

https://ateasetees.wordpress.com/

http://www.blogbydonna.com/

http://getyergoat-goatgifts.blogspot.com

http://www.nanwrightart.com

http://randomshirts.blogspot.com/

http://skeetzteez.blogspot.com/

http://www.shopkeeperdesigns.com

http://autismshowucare.blogspot.com

http://www.gocamelphotos.blogspot.com/

http://einselgaenger.blogspot.com/

http://beflip.blogspot.com/

 

The gospel according to Santa

December 15, 2008 at 6:12 pm | Posted in Christianity | Leave a comment
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Most adults would say that they don’t believe in Santa. They would say that they are too old to believe in something like that. The funny thing is, the theology they hold to seems to say otherwise:

Prosperity gospel – God wants us to be healthy and wealthy and if we’re not, it’s our own fault. Either we lack faith or we’re not confessing the right things.

Social gospel – God left us an example in Jesus. This example was not about being holy and righteous. It wasn’t about being obedient. It was about doing everything we can to help and care for the less fortunate. We should give money, food, and other things to eradicate poverty, hunger, and other social ills. This was Jesus’ purpose for coming.

“Feel good” gospel – God is love. He loves us unconditionally. He is happy with us and we should feel the same way about ourselves. God is not judgmental, angry, or upset with “His children”. Sin isn’t talked about because that would imply we are wrong and God would judge us.

As I said above, many adults would say that they don’t believe in Santa, but what they teach/preach/listen to/believe seems to imply that Santa’s sitting in heaven. They make every effort to do good, not because it’s the result of salvation, but because they think it will help them get saved. They expect “good” things or “blessings” because they call themselves Christians, go to church, or even preach a “sermon” or “message” with scripture references. They treat God like Santa. They run to Him, “sit on His lap” (or “at his feet”) to ask for stuff and then run off and forget Him unless they don’t get what they asked for. They “believe” for things like God is sitting up in heaven waiting for them to be “good enough” or “have enough faith” to “receive” what they want.

I overheard someone say that God not only gives us our needs but our wants too. That was why Jesus changed the water into wine at the wedding of Cana…

I’ve also heard numerous people say “I know that God wants me blessed” or “I know God wants me to have it”.

It’s like they believe God’s entire existence revolves around them and their happiness. God seems to hang on their every word waiting for them to “confess” something so that He has the ability to act! I’ve heard “preaching” by well-known a prosperity preacher, Bill Winston, say that “the reason that Satan killed all the prophets was because they were saying things. ‘When the prophets spoke, God could act’” This is ridiculous! Not only that, but those who see God like this never seem to see anything but “good” like love, joy, peace, and “blessing”. They never see the “bad” things like judgment, justice, righteousness, and holiness. Even when someone makes “Santa God”’s “bad” list, they don’t get punished. They just get a little less blessed than others! They get a Toyota instead of a Mercedes, a three bedroom ranch instead of a mansion, and a middle-class $50K job instead of the “big money”.

Even at Christmas time we do this. We focus on ourselves:

Q: Why do we celebrate Christmas?

A: Because Jesus was born.
Q: Why was He born?

A: To save us.

While this is true, it’s not the main reason that Jesus came. Everything God does is for His glory!!! Yes, Jesus died for us. Yes, it was one of His purposes, but it was NOT the main one.

It seems that at the heart of everything most Christians do today is self. Everything that’s preached is all about what “God” can do for you. All the sermons by the “pastors” are focused on health, wealth, sex, relationships, and image. Sin, hell, judgment, and justice are taboo now because it might offend someone.

I’ve got a newsflash for those “Christians” who follow these warped and misleading theologies:

God is NOT some doddering old man who sits on a throne in heaven anxiously waiting for you to “ask in faith” for the materialistic, worldly, things you can do without. He is NOT “making a list and checking it twice”. His main focus is NOT to “bless you so you can bless others”. He does not need you to say something before He can act, nor does He need your permission. He is not surprised by anything that happens and is not powerless to work without us. He has NOT changed His mind about sin or how someone gets saved. He’s NOT our “buddy”, our “lover”, or our “divine butler”. He does NOT sit up in heaven trying to thing of ways to bless you.

The God of the Bible IS the Triune, eternal God who existed before time and will continue to exist for eternity. He IS the One who created everything and breathed millions of stars into existence. He IS the One whose voice shakes the mountains. His presence causes heaven and earth to flee from Him. He IS the judge of the living and the dead. He brought plagues on the nation of Egypt and wiped out their entire army with the Red Sea. He destroyed two priests because they offered unholy fire. He opened the earth and swallowed up Korah, Dathan, Abiram, and their families because of their rebellion. He has raised up and brought low entire nations, including His chosen people. He IS the One who hates sin. It is His wrath that rests on those who live in disobedience and rebellion. He judged the entire world with a global flood and has promised a fiery judgment to come. No human being will ever fully comprehend Him and no other “god” (Allah, Brahman, Buddha) will ever compare to Him.

Do you see the stark contrast between the “god” of the modern church and the God of the Bible? If you follow the “modern God”, you are deceived and need to understand what God says about Himself and not what the “pastor” says. If you preach this “modern God”, you need to repent and you should be ashamed. God will not hold you guiltless for the people your misleading!

The modern church needs to stop focusing on what they want. They need to stop focusing on what the unsaved want. They need to start focusing on what God wants. As Christians, we need to be focused on glorifying God! God will provide for us. He will test us and bring us through trials for His glory. If we lose our jobs, loved ones, finances, or health, God knows and will do what will bring Him the most glory. This doesn’t mean we can’t grieve or rejoice. It doesn’t mean that things will always be tough or that God is “out to get us”, but it doesn’t mean that everything will be rosy either. It means that God will get the glory that He alone deserves.

God wills save people if they come to Him on His terms. He will provide as He sees necessary, whether we agree with it or understand it or not. God does love those who are His, but not to the point of overlooking sin. He hates sin and will judge those who have not repented of their sin and put their trust in Christ. God doesn’t mind us asking for things. It is when we demand or expect things from Him that we cross the line. So many Christians seem to have put themselves in a place above God. There isn’t a more dangerous place someone could be…

As Christmas draws near, instead of focusing on what you want or want you don’t have, focus on how you can use everything God has given you to glorify Him.

Design of the Week 12/10/08 – Half Right

December 15, 2008 at 6:08 pm | Posted in Designs of the Week | Leave a comment
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This time of year, many people are focused on the “Christmas rush”. They run around from store to store to find the perfect gift for those they love. The big attraction this time of year for the kids is getting their picture with Santa and telling him what they want for Christmas. One of the most famous phrases from Mr. Claus is “Ho! Ho! Ho!”

The sad part about this is that Santa is only half right. Unfortunately, many people are happy with that. See, what we should be saying this time of year is “Holy! Holy! Holy!” These three words are known in scripture as the trihaggion. The only time they are used is to describe God. Holiness is one of God’s characteristics. He is holier than everything else.

We should be focused on God and His holiness instead of gifts and Santa. It was God who came to earth to save us. While many people know this, they seem to forget that He didn’t have to. He is perfect and holy without us. He doesn’t need us or depend on us. And yet, He still came and lived as a man in order to provide us the opportunity to be reconciled with Him. The Christmas season is the beginning of something that God had planned before the foundation of the world. It ended on Resurrection Sunday when Jesus Christ rose from the dead.

This season, when you find yourself caught up in rushing around to get your shopping done and everything just seems to be pressuring you, stop for a minute and put your focus back on Christ. It is His gift that we should be receiving. It is His gift that we should be most happy with and most grateful for. It is His gift that is the only thing that can save us from an eternity in hell. Being half right is the same as being all wrong when your eternal life is on the line…

Woe to you!

December 8, 2008 at 4:05 pm | Posted in Christianity | Leave a comment
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In Matthew 23, Jesus is talking to a crowd that gathered around Him. He had just finished dealing with the questions of the Sadducees and the Pharisees. They had been asking questions about different theological issues. At the end of chapter 22, Jesus turns the tables on them and asks them a question. After His question, no one could answer Him. Then, in chapter 23, He goes on to warn the people about the Pharisees.

 

Mat 23:1  Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples,

Mat 23:2  saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses;

Mat 23:3  therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them.

Mat 23:4  “They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger.

Mat 23:5  “But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments.

Mat 23:6  “They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues,

Mat 23:7  and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men.

Mat 23:8  “But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers.

Mat 23:9  “Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.

Mat 23:10  “Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ.

Mat 23:11  “But the greatest among you shall be your servant.

Mat 23:12  “Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.

Mat 23:13  “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.

Mat 23:14  [“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive greater condemnation.]

Mat 23:15  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.

Mat 23:16  “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, that is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple is obligated.’

Mat 23:17  “You fools and blind men! Which is more important, the gold or the temple that sanctified the gold?

Mat 23:18  “And, ‘Whoever swears by the altar, that is nothing, but whoever swears by the offering on it, he is obligated.’

Mat 23:19  “You blind men, which is more important, the offering, or the altar that sanctifies the offering?

Mat 23:20  “Therefore, whoever swears by the altar, swears both by the altar and by everything on it.

Mat 23:21  “And whoever swears by the temple, swears both by the temple and by Him who dwells within it.

Mat 23:22  “And whoever swears by heaven, swears both by the throne of God and by Him who sits upon it.

Mat 23:23  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.

Mat 23:24  “You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!

Mat 23:25  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence.

Mat 23:26  “You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also.

Mat 23:27  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.

Mat 23:28  “So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

Mat 23:29  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous,

Mat 23:30  and say, ‘If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’

Mat 23:31  “So you testify against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets.

Mat 23:32  “Fill up, then, the measure of the guilt of your fathers.

Mat 23:33  “You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell?

Mat 23:34  “Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city,

Mat 23:35  so that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.

Mat 23:36  “Truly I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.

Mat 23:37  “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.

Mat 23:38  “Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!

Mat 23:39  “For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, ‘BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!'”

 

Jesus condemns the Pharisees for doing all of the visual things that commend them to others but have absolutely no meaning to God without the inner change that comes from being saved by grace through faith. He warns the crowd that they shouldn’t be like them if they want to know eternal life. The Pharisees were the religious leaders and should have been leading God’s people closer to Him. They had a deep knowledge of what the scripture says and should have been waiting for Christ to come. They should have been the ones to recognize Him in the temple at 12 years old. They should have been out in the streets trying to get the people in Roman-occupied Israel to flock to Jesus and receive the gift of salvation. Instead of this, they created even tougher laws the people had to follow to be right with God. They took advantage of the laws better their lives and position.

 

In this chapter, Jesus rebukes the Pharisees for keeping others from heaven. He rebukes them for their pretensions and treatment of widows. He also condemns them for making converts even worse off then they were themselves. They were rebuked for not having their hearts focused on the right thing (they were more worried about gold than God). He rebuked them for following the finer points of the law (the tithe) while ignoring justice, mercy, and faithfulness. He rebuked them for making their appearance holy and righteous while the inside is horrible. He exposed their self-righteousness and His condemnation of it.

 

Today, we see these same things in churches across the globe. “Pastors” are preaching a different gospel and keeping people from entering heaven. Christians are ignoring widows and take from those who can’t afford it (getting them to “sow seeds”), all in the name of Christianity. Those who get “converted” are made to jump through hoops and become worse than those leading them. The focus is on the money and material things instead of God. Christians nitpick and focus on minor things (color of the carpet, who can sing what, etc.) while ignoring larger things. They give money and material things to people in the congregation and do “good” things in the community, but they ignore the things that people really need. They don’t preach sin, hell, judgment, and wrongdoing. Going to church today has become all about appearance. It’s about whether you look like what a Christian should look like, not by the scriptural definition, but by what the current Christian trends say. If the trends say that torn jeans, Starbucks, and facial hair are what makes a Christian, then droves of people will end up doing it just to look like a Christian. It doesn’t matter what kind of lifestyle you live, as long as you look like a Christian. The church has determined what righteousness is and has proclaimed itself to be so instead of measuring itself by God’s standard.

 

We need to stop using worldly trends and current efforts by churches to look like the world in order to attract people to determine who is a Christian. Instead, we need to return to scripture and use God’s Word to determine who is and isn’t a Christian. It’s not about what non-believers think. It’s not about what the church thinks. It’s about what God says. We need to repent of sin. We need to teach others the truth of sin and how God sees it and the people that commit it. We need to start doing things we know that we should be. We need to honestly and energetically portray Christ the way that He portrayed Himself in the Bible. We need to be witnesses to the true Christ and to be telling others at every opportunity that without Christ, they will find themselves in hell. We can’t beat the world at being the world and it’s not the job of the church to try. Instead, we need to be the church. We need to be holy and set apart like the Bible calls us to be. It’s the only thing that will lead people to the Saviorhttp://www.cafepress.com/ateasetees/4506794 of the world…

Design of the Week 12/03/08 – Praise

December 3, 2008 at 4:27 pm | Posted in Designs of the Week | Leave a comment
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This weeks design is something that really just tells people like it is. For those who truly follow Christ, praise is a natural thing. It is something that comes from the truth that Christ has saved us from our sins. It is something that allows us to stay strong and hopeful during trials and tribulations. It is something that we can always do – no matter where we are or what we’re in the middle of!

The Bible says that God is enthroned on the praises of His people. He doesn’t need our praise, but He definitely deserves it and welcomes it! We have millions of things to praise God for every single day and we usually take most (if not all) of them for granted.

During this time of year, as we prepare for Christmas, I urge you to take some time and praise God for who He is. Praise Him for what He’s done through Christ and then praise Him for what He’s done in you. If you can’t do that, then something’s up…

Who will inherit the kingdom of heaven?

December 1, 2008 at 5:02 pm | Posted in Christianity | 10 Comments
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There seems to be a lot of confusion nowadays as to who will inherit the kingdom of God. Many “pastors” talk about bringing the kingdom of heaven to earth. Some talk about how people of other faiths will still go to heaven. Some talk about how a person doesn’t need to believe in Jesus to go to heaven.

 

So, what does it mean to bring the kingdom of heaven to earth? Is this something that Christians can accomplish? To many of those in seeker sensitive and emergent churches, this means doing good deeds and helping the less fortunate. To others, it means “seeing souls saved” and “preaching the gospel”. I put these things in quotes because although this is what many people say, it’s not even close to what they are doing. This is becoming more and more common in churches across the country as pastor after pastor looks to fill the pews in their church instead of preaching the truth and teaching the same things that Jesus taught. They have replaced the gospel with entertainment, topical sermons, and asinine and mocking “sermons” that have nothing to do with the truth and everything to do with the world and ticking the ears of their listeners. Still, many “pastors” are leading their sheep in directions that don’t have anything to do with scripture. There is nothing in scripture that talks about Christians bringing the kingdom of heaven to earth. Many will quote Jesus in Matthew 6 when He teaches the disciples to pray. Jesus only prays that the kingdom would come. It says nothing of His followers bringing it to earth. Others will quote Jesus’ words when He said, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”. Again, this says nothing about the possibility of bringing the kingdom of heaven to earth.

 

Pastors who teach this do a disservice by misleading their flocks and teaching them something that scripture doesn’t say. The sad thing is, that’s only part of the problem. They talk about how the church needs to take action – feeding the hungry, helping the poor, eradicating poverty. They talk about how these things are what the church needs to focus on and that we need to stop worrying about theology and other issues like abortion and homosexual marriage. Many of the people these pastors are trying to “bring heaven to earth for” won’t be able to inherit it because they haven’t been cleansed of their sins!

 

So, who can inherit the kingdom of heaven? Scripture makes it very clear who can and cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven. 1 Corinthians 15:50 says that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven. It doesn’t matter how many pastors have been in your ancestry. You can’t inherit the kingdom of God through genealogy. The only way that you can inherit the kingdom of God is spiritually. Scripture also says that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God:

 

1Co 6:9  Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals,

1Co 6:10  nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.

 

Gal 5:19  Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality,

Gal 5:20  idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions,

Gal 5:21  envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

 

Eph 5:5  For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.

 

Rev 21:8  “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

 

When Jesus, Paul, and John talked about inheriting the kingdom of God, they made it clear that they were sure of what they talked about. The above scriptures make it clear that there are a number of people (in and out of the church) that will not inherit the kingdom of heaven.

 

Because of this, the question has to be asked: How does one inherit the kingdom of heaven? Scripture makes this clear too:

 

Joh 3:3  Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

 

Mat 4:17  From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

 

Eph 2:8  For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;

 

What scriptures say is that for someone to inherit the kingdom of heaven, they must be born again. This happens through two things. First, they must repent of their sins. They must see themselves as a wretched sinner (which is what scripture says we are) and that there is nothing that they can do to inherit the kingdom of God. They need to see themselves the way God sees them. Once they do that, they can understand the cross and the sacrifice that Jesus made for sin. Jesus’ death on the cross wasn’t just about love it was a legal transaction. If someone recognizes they’re a sinner and is willing to repent, they can receive the free gift of salvation. I’m not talking about just “saying sorry”. It’s turning from those things that the Bible calls sin. Salvation has nothing to do with “accepting Christ”. We don’t accept Christ. Saying that makes it sound like we have looked at it and decided that Jesus is the way we want to go. That’s not how salvation works. It’s not about a decision, it’s about a change in the way that we live.

 

If you haven’t repented of your sins, then you’re not saved. If you are trying to work your way to heaven like Catholicism and Mormonism teach, then it won’t work. We don’t help Jesus save us. The only way to be saved is to repent of your sins and put your complete trust in Jesus Christ and not in your works or anything else. If you aren’t saved, I urge you to consider your sins and cry out to God to save you. There is no other way beside Jesus (John 14:6). He will save you if you will repent and put your faith in Him…


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